Where can COVID-19 long-haulers get help in Tampa Bay?

Mahsa Saeidi

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Doctors say most people recover from COVID-19 in about three weeks. But for others, the symptoms can last long after the infection.

So with some patients still struggling to get their health back months after getting COVID-19, what help is there for “long-haulers” in the Tampa Bay area?

Coping with long-COVID

Katherine Murphy got coronavirus in August of 2020. At first, her symptoms were typical.  

As the weeks passed, her husband Justin says she got worse experiencing long-COVID: loss of taste and smell, brain fog and extreme fatigue.

“There’s some days where I have to pause entirely what I might be doing and step in because that’s what my family and children need,” Justin said. “I’m happy to do it but, more importantly, I want to find out how can we get here back to a better place.”

Justin hit roadblocks trying to find help. He tells us he’s concerned for his wife and other long-haulers in the Tampa Bay area.

“Where do you go? What do you do?” said Justin.

Help for Florida long-haulers

We found two post-COVID clinics in the state.

The first is at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland.

Dr. Kathleen Haggerty, who runs the clinic says unfortunately, there’s a months-long waitlist for new patients.

“We have a difficulty seeing a huge number of new patients because long-haul patients are very complex. So it takes a very long time to get to know them and find out everything that’s gone on with them,” Dr. Haggerty explained.

The other facility is at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. 8 On Your Side asked about a potential waitlist at the site and found information on the Mayo Clinic’s website about a virtual treatment program.

Seeking help closer to home, we contacted Department of Health offices across the Tampa Bay area.

Most counties referred us to hospital systems since they don’t provide primary care or COVID-19 patient care. We also reached out to larger hospital systems.

BayCare says its “providers are working with their patients individually to address their specific medical needs as they experience ‘long-haul’ symptoms.”

That’s potential help for families like the Murphys.

“I just want my wife back. I want her to be back to herself to feel like herself,” said Justin.

Doctors will typically do a physical exam, order tests to rule out other conditions and come up with a treatment plan.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Haggerty’s post-COVID clinic in Lakeland, call (863) 680-7190 or visit the clinic’s website.

Here’s more information from the Mayo Clinic:

“The Mayo Clinic in Florida Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID Clinic is designed to evaluate all patients with sequelae of COVID-19 (ie: symptoms lasting beyond the four weeks of initial infection.”

The clinic evaluates patients for both sequelae associated with COVID-19 that can be detrimental to their health, as well as for post –COVID-19 central sensitization. The clinic officially opened in May, 2021. Patients specifically seeking treatment through this clinic would need to “request an appointment” via the options at the following link.

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